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There's Game in My Movie!

  • Feb 25, 2010
Heavy Rain is perhaps one of the most anticipated Playstation 3 titles this year.  It's not hard to see why.  The game is hell bent on being an interactive movie of sorts in which you can play through it and watch.  You can think of Heavy Rain as basically a movie in which you participate in.  This brings about the question as to whether or not Heavy Rain is actually... a game.  If it IS a game, then it is by far one of the most original we've seen in a long time.  It's not the first game to be branded as an "interactive movie," but it's the first one where the concept might as well be taken literally.  Wing Commander III was called an interactive movie as well, but the only interaction with the movie was being able to make choices in the dialog exchanges.  When you actually played it was divided into missions.  Wing Commander III on the original Playstation was definitely a movie, but it didn't take the concept nearly as far as Heavy Rain does.  Heavy Rain takes the concept of "interactive movie" so far that it really becomes one.  In short, instead of there being a lot of cutscenes with gameplay inbetween them, it's spliced in.  These aren't exactly quick time events, but they're close.

Heavy Rain centers on a deranged killer who murders children.  The killer is constantly referred to as the Oragami Killer because he leaves a calling card--an Oragami.  As the "movie" progresses you'll take on the role of several different characters depending on the scene you're in.  You're pretty much going through and watching the movie and participating.  So it's interesting to see how things come together.  That's not to say you don't participate within this.  You'll come to moments where you examine scenes and piece together clues as you try and solve the mystery.  You're never a single character through the game.  Rather you'll take on the role of several different characters throughout. 

The production values are by far some of Heavy Rain's best moments.  The game is gritty with a lot of style.  There's a film noirish vibe to it as you play.  It's by far one of the most gorgeous looking games out there.  The characters facial expressions and the environments are absolutely eye-popping.  And because of the game's dark tone it only comes more alive.  The attention to detail is abslutely amazing here.  Even better than that is the game's soundtrack which is among the best music you'll ever hear in a video game.  In terms of making the experience movie like, Heavy Rain pretty much blows its competition out of the water.  There's almost no comparison.  Heavy Rain presents itself incredibly well.  The voice acting isn't so bad either, though there are some moments where it could be slightly better.  The dreary environments and overall dark story are enough to keep you playing and watching.  And make no mistake, Heavy Rain is an incredibly good story.

The game also really lives up to its mature rating.  What you're getting is no different than what you get in an R-Rated film.  Yet this is also what makes Heavy Rain come alive.  There are a lot of mature adult like themes.  This is much more than just being a game in which blood is flying everywhere.  The story, sequences and suggestive, sexual like themes solidify it.  The world of Heavy Rain comes alive because of this sort of thing.  Simply put, the chances of you seeing a game come this alive are extremely rare.  So much so that, yeah, Heavy Rain's presentation really is part of what makes the game so incredibly good.  Once it grabs you it's hard to get out.  You're doing much more than just playing a game.  You are--quite literally--entering a whole other world.

But how exactly does Heavy Rain play?  Seeing as how it's an interactive movie.  What usually happens is that you'll find characters talking.  Along those lines you're able to choose the kind of quesetions or the kind of information you want to get.  Not everyone is so easy, however.  There will be characters that will try to dodge your questions or who you'll have to coerce into giving you information.  So it isn't just simply sitting around and watching as the characters exchange dialog.  There are many ways to go about the game as a whole.  There's more than one way to get information, and it can have an impact on how the game turns out.  This helps Heavy Rain have some replay value as a result.  There's not much to fear if you should screw up.  You don't have forever to make up your mind, however, and sometimes it would be easier if the choices weren't revolving around the character's head.  You'll have to press the button which corresponds to what you want to do.

There's more to it than that.  There will be moments where you'll find yourself in some intense action sequences where you'll have to press the right button or maneuver the right analog stick in order to get through some of these moments.  Once again, you can't take forever.  This is pretty obvious considering if you're in a fight or being strangled, yeah, you wouldn't be able to take forever.  Each button icon that pops up and slowly fills with a shade of grey.  When the box is full it means you've failed to push the button.  The game keeps you on your toes by varying the time limit.  There's not much punishment if you screw up or press the wrong button, though, the game gives you ample time to correct yourself or will give you other options later.  Again, it can be interesting to replay through Heavy Rain just to see the different ways that you could potentially take on a specific moment.  But there's more to it as sometimes you'll have to perform other actions as well.  Much of it is there for the sake of keeping you interacting.  Though it can be annoying that sometimes you'll be doing the most basic of basic things in the game's effort to keep you engaged during moments when the story slows down.  Even if it means doing something that's simply not too important to the story. 

You may think there are moments where you won't be walking around or anything... but there are.  Surprisingly this is one of the biggest problems with Heavy Rain.  Believe it or not, yes, WALKING is a problem in a game.  We've only been doing it... forever.  Yet for whatever reason walking in Heavy Rain just feels clumbsy.  You'll hold a button to walk while moving the character around with the left analog stick.  Yet for some odd reason it's really cumbersome.  You'll spend a lot of time stopping just to reorient your character.  How is it that a game can screw up the most basic of basic things?  If it were a small thing it wouldn't be a big deal, but it's a rather big thing in Heavy Rain.  You won't be doing it that much, thank goodness, but you'll dread when you have to.

For the most part, Heavy Rain is far from being a gimmick of a game.  It's just hard to say how much it will appeal to gamers.  If you enjoyed Indigo Prophecy you'll probably be captivated by much of what Heavy Rain has to offer.  On the other hand there's definitely a portion of the gaming community that might be turned off of Heavy Rain's... lack of being a "real" game.  It keeps you interacting and watching, but it should be no surprise that you'll find some gamers who may not be able to stand Heavy Rain just because of that.  You certainly won't spend more time watching than playing, it's just that the experience in and of itself isn't for everyone.  If you're used to say... the fast paced, intense action of a First Person Shooter... then Heavy Rain is going to take time to get used to, and some just won't get used to it at all.  This is because of the kind of game Heavy Rain is.  There's hardly anything like it out there. 

If you're not drawn into the story of Heavy Rain, there's not much else left for you.  The gameplay is interesting, but the appeal is definitely the story.  It may be what ultimately makes you want to finish the game.  While the constant barrage of buttons on screen will keep you on your toes (sometimes making you press multiple buttons all at once) it's actually might be hard for gamers to get past the fact that it's all you're doing.  You're not being pitted in an area where you'll run around, draw a gun and gun down someone around you (or a monster in a dark corridor).  This is why Heavy Rain is constantly called an interactive movie.  It's primarily something you experience with your eyes and it just about blurs the line between cinema and video games.  So again, if you're not enjoying the story of Heavy Rain, you're more apt to be disappointed by it.  It takes much of its production values pretty well.  Not only does the game have great graphics, music and writing but there is also a lot of good cinematography, lighting and a lot of nice fluid animation.  It makes a good video game, but Heavy Rain definitely makes a better movie. 

There is replay to Heavy Rain, but it really depends on how much you enjoyed it the first time.  While there are different outcomes to certain situations much of them just aren't that huge.  And while it seems strange to say, sitting around for ten hours just pressing a specific button when prompted doesn't exactly invite you back again to do it for another ten hours afterwards.  In short, Heavy Rain's biggest mixed bag is that it has the sort of appeal those old point and click PC games had.  There's interaction, but after a while you can only keep pressing and holding buttons without doing much more for so long.  And because walking is such a pain in the ass (I may never get over that... a video game... that screws up... walking) there's just as much to keep you from wanting to give it another go as there is stuff to make you want to go through it again.  Part of the reason people don't mind watching a movie again and again is because... it's not ten hours long.  Video games kind of have a different appeal.  Replay value is there, but it's more dependent on how much you enjoyed the story more so than whether or not you had fun.  The truth is not everyone is going to "have fun" with Heavy Rain.  As I said, it is most certainly more movie than game. 

On the other hand, what you get is pretty fantastic in and of itself.  Heavy Rain is definitely an interactive movie but it's a pretty damn good one.  And if you enjoy it enough you may find yourself going through it again just to see how things can go slightly differently.  The question as to whether video games can make for good interactive movies has been answered.  They can.  Heavy Rain proves this.  And while in some moments it has you doing basic things that have no real impact as a whole, it's nice to see that Heavy Rain flows in such a way that the experience comes together.  It won't be a game for everyone, but it is definitely a game for many a gamer who is interested in a good story that's well written with incredible characters.  In spite of its problems, Heavy Rain is one of the most original games you'll experience and is worth trying at least once.  Who needs to go out and rent a movie when you've got Heavy Rain?

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January 10, 2012
Nice job on the review, Sean. I have been sort of circling this game since I got my PS3 a few months ago, but I hesitate buying because I'm not sure how much violence/brutality/blood and scariness there is in the game. I love a good mystery novel or movie, but I'm not big on being scared. What's your take on that?
January 13, 2012
Well, there are scary moments.  Mostly based off the suspense around you.  In other words, you fear for the characters.  And some of it can be a bit tough to handle.  There are some moments that can be intense, but it's emotionally satisfying.  Because you'll care about the characters involved.  So it is violent and there is a brutal moment or two.  It centers on some very mature themes.  And some moments can be harder than others depending on who you do and do not save.  So I wouldn't say there are a lot of "scary" moments.  Just a lot of tense moments.
January 13, 2012
Thanks, Sean.
February 27, 2010
As someone who hasn't played a new video game in over 5 years, I'll take your word for it that this is top-notch gaming. ; )
February 26, 2010
The story is what makes this video game successful eh? Sounds like something I can really get behind given just how much I love "Resident Evil". This sounds pretty dark and awesome. Thanks for breaking my bank, Sean!
More Heavy Rain reviews
review by . March 01, 2010
posted in The Gaming Hub
   I heard a lot about this game, and to be honest, it was one of the few games I found difficult to turn off. Quantic Dream raises the proverbial bar with its latest entry Heavy Rain. The best way to describe it is to think of an interactive suspense-filled movie. The story is one of the best ever for a video game (heck, it is better than many of the best-selling novels in the genre) Without giving too much away: eight young boys have been found murdered with an origami figure in their …
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in The Gaming Hub
Heavy Rain is definitely an interactive movie but it's a pretty damn good one. And if you enjoy it enough you may find yourself going through it again just to see how things can go slightly differently. The question as to whether video games can make for good interactive movies has been answered. They can
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #1
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this video game


Heavy Rain is an interactive, single player, action adventure game in which every decision players make influences the evolution of a desperate quest to catch a deadly killer poised to strike again. Featuring a complex and dark storyline meant for mature audiences, the game is a PlayStation 3 exclusive featuring a variety of possible endings, advanced crime scene analysis, replayable chapters, four playable characters and the ability to continue play as remaining characters in the event of your current character's death.
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How far will you go to save someone you love? In Heavy Rain each player discovers their own answer to this question as they experience a gripping psychological thriller filled with innumerable twists and turns, where choices and actions can and do result in dramatic consequences. Spanning four days of mystery and suspense, the hunt is on for a murderer known only as the Origami Killer - named after his macabre calling card of leaving behind folded paper shapes at crime scenes. Even more chilling is the fiend's well established pattern of killing his victims four days after abducting them. The public is gripped with fear as the police seem powerless to stop the carnage, and another potential victim — Shaun Mars — has gone missing. Now four characters, each following their own leads and with their own motives, must take part in a desperate attempt to prevent the killer from taking yet another life.
Shaun and Ethan Mars from Heavy Rain
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Number of Players: Single-player
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Quantic Dream
Console: PlayStation 3
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: February 23, 2010
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